255 of 255 people found the following review helpful
Very good product, excellent value, and superior customer support - some technical caveats, though
, July 18, 2013
This review is from: NIX 12 inch Digital Photo Frame with 4GB Memory Drive - X12B (Camera)
I'm not sure what happened to the digital frame market, but it was really hard for me to find a quality 10-12 inch frame at a decent price. (Maybe everyone is using their iPads and Android tablets instead!) The NIX X12B seemed to fit the bill, however, and even though I wasn't familiar with the NIX brand, I took a chance.
After using the unit extensively over the last month or so, I like it a lot. It has a lot of functionality for the price -- for example, it will play music files (.MP3's only) as background to your slideshow and it will play video files (MPEG-4 and AVI are OK) separately -- that is, not interspersed with pictures in a slideshow. The frame software has some rudimentary editing functions for picture ordering. You can select from a number of different picture transition speeds (fastest is 3 seconds) and transition modes -- think Microsoft PowerPoint slideshows. It has a calendar mode and you can play a slideshow next to the calendar if you want. There is a clock/alarm and you can program auto power-on and power-off times (nice feature if you use the frame on your desk at work...) The remote control is the pretty standard "credit card" sized device and you'll definitely want to use it instead of the more limited controls at the back of the frame itself. It also comes with a 4GB USB drive (albeit a bit flimsy one), but please read my caveats, below, regarding file sizes. You can also use an SD card (not supplied.) Please note that the frame itself does NOT have any internal memory, so everything (JPEG, MP3, MPEG files) will need to reside on a USB drive or an SD card. USB "thumb" drives are incredibly cheap now anyway, so this should not be considered a negative.
From a quality perspective, the frame seems to be well made and stable on a table when the pull-out "easel-type" stand is extended. It's a bit thicker and heavier than a 10-inch Sony frame I also have, but for a device that you don't actually hold when in use, this isn't a problem. The screen resolution is 800 x 600 pixels ("SVGA" is pretty standard for mid-range frames), which is a 4:3 aspect ratio. Please note that most digital photos are close to a 4:3 ratio, so if you're considering getting a wide-screen frame (16:9 aspect ratio and 1024 x 600 pixels), it really doesn't really get you much. This is just like watching non-high def TV shows on your high def wide-screen TV; you get the black "letterbox" bars on the left and right side. So, I have no issue with the X12B frame being 4:3 ratio. The frame will auto-size/auto-rotate and optimize the photo for the aspect ratio of the frame.
Now for the technical caveats:
1. The frame will only display pictures that are in the .JPG file format. If your digital pictures are in a different file format (.TIFF, .BMP, .RAW, etc.) you will need to use one of the many free utilities available on the Internet to convert them to .JPG's.
2. The NIX X12B appears to be very sensitive to the length of filenames and the size of .JPG files when it comes to slideshow transition speed and picture display "random-ness" when the random display mode is selected. (This is the only significant technical issue I had to overcome with the frame.)
So here's the most important caveat that you must know -- and I suspect that this applies to almost all digital frames: It is highly likely that your digital camera has a MUCH higher resolution than the digital frame does. Even if your smartphone has only a 2 megapixel camera, this is about 4 times the resolution of any 800 x 600 pixel digital frame. Bottom line is that there is A LOT more detail in a picture from a 12 MP digital camera than could ever be displayed on your frame. If you look at the file sizes of the pictures from your camera, if they are over 480 KB, then you're just wasting space on the USB drive (or SD card) you're using for the digital frame. There is a great FREE (non-commercial use only) utility from FastStone ([...] called Photo Resizer that will easily adjust all your bloated .JPG files down to 800 x 600 for use with a digital frame. (It can also optionally rename the files in batch to short, numerically sequenced filenames -- which the X12B seems to like better than long, randomly named, files.) So, once the files are re-sized and re-named, the X12B appears to operate very well. Although there is no such thing as true programmatic randomization, the NIX random algorithm could use some improvement in my opinion. This is the only remaining quibble I had with the unit, and as I mentioned, it might very well be an issue on other brands of digital frames as well.
As an aside, once you've re-sized your photos to 800 x 600 pixels (a maximum of about one-half megabyte), you could get about 8,000 pictures on the 4 GB USB drive that NIX supplies with the unit. That's why a 4 GB drive is a bit of overkill -- you could easily use a cheap 256 or 512 MB USB drive and have more than enough room for hundreds of pictures. Want to display more? Just swap in a different USB drive... The whole file re-sizing/re-naming process is thoroughly described on NIX's web site (support FAQ's) -- which leads me to my last caveat/comment:
3. As a retired Technology Director, I have managed many customer support units over the years. As a consumer, I have dealt with (and sometimes suffered through) tens of customer support organizations. I have to say that NIX customer support is OUTSTANDING. I originally contacted them via e-mail and was amazed by the promptness of their reply (within hours -- normal business hours.) Their tech reps were knowledgeable and courteous. When there was an issue or question that was beyond their authority, they quickly forwarded me to management who was able to resolve all issues to my full satisfaction. NIX's web site also has a lot of good self-help information and electronic copies of user manuals (in case you lose your hard-copy one.)
Whether you buy this or another NIX model -- or you choose another brand -- do yourself a BIG favor and perform this simple test: Go to the manufacturer's web site and see what kind of support resources there are for the particular model you are interested in. Is the model you want actually a currently offered/supported model? Is there only the sales brochure available on the site? Can you get a copy of the manual? Is there a knowledge base or a FAQ section -- and does it actually address common issues one might encounter? Do they have a support phone number, e-mail address, or live chat? (In NIX's case, there is a pretty extensive knowledge base and they only have e-mail support -- but again, I found that to be as good, if not better than, most phone support.)
Final word: I'm glad that I took the chance with the NIX X12B frame. Give it -- or one of NIX's other frame models -- serious consideration when you select and purchase a digital frame. Thanks for reading my lengthy review; hope it helps you! ;-)
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